When Called To A Difficult Purpose

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And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

Over the last few weeks (aka since school started), I’ve been ill. We didn’t make it through the first week of school without one of the kids catching something and sharing it with the rest of us.

Four weeks later, I’m still sick but with something else. When your immunity is down, it’s easy to get sick. I’ve had one or two decent days and one really good day in four weeks. This past Wednesday, I felt normal. Yet, as I went to bed that night, I knew my good day was over. After a night of very  little sleep, I went back to the doctor.

Why am I telling you this? Because people don’t get what grandparenting (being a grandparent raising grandchildren) does to us. I wrote about this  last week and heard from several grandparents in the same boat. They thanked me for saying what I did.

I’m guessing some readers, found my bluntness a bit uncomfortable. That’s ok. I’m not attacking or blaming people. I’m trying to create an understanding for the 2.5 million grandparents in my shoes. We are a growing population.

We do what we do for love. We trust in God to help us, but it’s terrifying to look at our retirement and realize we planned to support two adults, not to raise more children.

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. Psalm 71:17-18

That is what He’s asked us to do, to proclaim Him to another generation of children. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why He chose us to do it in this way, but He did. But herein lies the problem: my sickness.

As my illness continues, I’ve become weak and exhausted. At a time when income becomes most important, the circumstances make it hard to maintain that income. I would love to retire and focus completely on my writing and the grandchildren (not just the two who live with us), but I’m not retirement age, and I’ll probably have to work longer than I originally planned in order to make sure we survive.

And we’re the lucky ones. Most grandparents who are raising grandchildren, live below the poverty line.

We do have the Bible verses like those in this post to encourage us, and for those of us whose faith already sustained us through many trials, our faith brings  comfort. But we’re human and struggling. In the moment it’s hard to remember to turn to God. That’s probably why my last post came across strong to some people. I’m not apologizing for that. It’s important to help people understand the struggles other people experience. You can’t do that by sugar-coating the truth.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

This is the main purpose of this blog: helping people understand the struggles of others as well as revealing how my struggles built my faith in God.

Will you take a moment today to stop and pray for the grandparents and grandchildren in this situation? It’s not easy, and we need your support.

Are you a grandparent raising grandchildren? What’s your biggest struggle? I want to hear from you! If you’re a grandchild who was raised by a grandparent, I’d love to hear from you, too.

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How Do We Stop the Violence?

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By now, you have heard of the school shooting in Townville, SC. That is not far from where I live.

I’ve shared with you my morning prayer for loved ones who attend or work in schools. It hasn’t changed. I still pray it every single day.

But we need more to heal our country’s wounds.

Why does this keep happening?

Our country’s steady, fast-moving drift from faith has created an environment for violence. There was a time when children grew up aware of the sanctity of life, taught to respect others whether you liked them or not. Taught that God made man in His own image, and life was precious.

That way of life is gone.

People who claim faith and spew hatred are not Christians. Satan finds them and exploits them. People who have turned from, or never knew, faith provide an ever-widening field of weapons for Satan’s arsenal.

Satan is real and he attacks where he can.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  I Peter 5:8

Have we, as a country, traveled too far from our faith, from our beliefs, that we can’t go back? I don’t know. I don’t have the answer.

How about you? How do we fix this?

Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’m inviting a discussion , one that provides insight and ideas, not accusations and hatred. Even if your idea seems small, it doesn’t matter. One person can make a difference.

How do we stop the violence?

Prayer of Humility and Selflessness

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In 2011, I attended the very first Christian Communicator’s Conference (CCC).  This conference assists Christian women in developing and expanding their speaking ministries.  The conference propelled my life of faith into new levels of discovery as I sat at the feet of founders, Vonda Skelton and Carolyn Knefely. As an added bonus, I met several like-minded women with the same goal:  enhance our speaking careers to serve God.

In 2013 and 2014, I attended Advanced Conferences offered by Christian Communicators.  Over the years, I’ve forged friendships and come to admire so many of these women.  Their personal stories of faith amaze and inspire me. Even though I haven’t met all of them, many of them have touched my life in ways I never anticipated.

The most recent conference ended just a few weeks ago. This year, Vonda and Carolyn passed the baton to three new women to run the organization.  I’m excited to see what’s in store for this community of women.

The Prayer

As I’ve heard reports from the latest group of alumni, I’ve been reminded of the prayer Vonda and Carolyn use to send the participants back into the world. This prayer moves me each time I hear it. Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), it perfectly expresses a servant of Christ’s humility and selflessness.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

The Appeal

Speakers and writers start serving others because they feel compelled to share and to help. It takes a certain level of ego to believe you have something to say, so they must fight the urge to be prideful about their service. It’s easy to forget why they started serving and to focus more on self rather than the ones served.

This prayer refocuses me.

I’ve highlighted in bold the parts that are hardest for me. (You have no idea how hard it is to admit this!)

Which parts of the prayer are hardest for you?

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